I am usually quite a composed person, but before meeting Bajowoo of 99%IS, I was quite worried. I am not worried about interviewing a punk, I love meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures. The thing that worried me was how do I get emotions out from someone who wears a surgical mask and sunglasses. But as the interview went on, I realized I was speaking to a sentimental punk.
99%IS was founded in 2008 by Park Jong Woo or most people know him as Bajowoo. The Punk brand grew purely out of passion and sub-cultures that he adored. Most might get to know the brand through collaborations with Comme Des Garçon, Mackintosh or through celebrities like G-Dragon or Pharrell wearing them on social media. I took a special interest in wanting to know why the brand is having quite a presence in Bangkok where the climate doesn’t favour thick clothing, let alone leather or puffer jackets. So I decided to speak to Bajowoo, Pint (Carnival owner) and Farn (Weirdvisuel) about it:
So why do you choose Bangkok as one of the key cities to do the 99%IS exhibition (aside from LA, Tokyo, Paris and Seoul)?
Bajowoo: I first visited Thailand about 10 years ago and I met some really good punk friends. I remember them taking me in and allowing me to even stay over at their houses. It was so hot and I had my long sleeve clothings on all the time even when visiting Chatuchat Weekend Market (Laughs). That was where I met my very good punk friend – the “crocodile punk” (very known punk among the locals). I still visit him whenever I am in Bangkok. I see a lot of similarities between Thai and Korean punks though we do not share the same upbringing. That is why I feel this is the right place for 99%IS.
How did you get into Punk culture?
Bajowoo: When I was 12 years old, I actually went to an underground punk club. I just graduated from elementary school and took so much interest in Punk culture. The elder punk brothers took me in as I was the youngest one around. So I started to help make posters and DIY clothing for them. At that time, I really wanted to wear tartan pants as seen on punks overseas but there weren’t any shops selling punk clothing. I remember using crayons to draw red tartans on a pair of white pants I bought. Little did I know when I walked out of the house it started raining and all the red started to melt and smudge on my pants. The experience actually inspired me to create a 99%IS spraycan so the current young generation can actually use it to DIY their clothing. It is ok if you can’t afford a 99%IS hoodie as it is quite pricey, but I do encourage everyone to DIY your own hoodie.
Do you think the Thai consumers would buy 99%IS jackets and thick clothing?
Bajowoo: It is not about the clothes, it is actually the mindset that counts, and Thailand has that mindset.
Farn: The punk culture died 10 plus years ago when I was a 14 year old punk in Chatuchak market. It died because the consumers started to catch on to another trend but to me PUNK IS A MINDSET and I think Bajowoo brought the punk culture back to the streets again.
How did Bajowoo get to know Farn and the local Thai punks?
Farn: One day there was a famous Korean hairstylist by the name of Donald King who came to visit Smileclub Thailand. So I always wanted to know Bajowoo of 99%IS. The next thing I knew Donald was video-calling Bajowoo and we connected ever since then.
So as a retail partner, why do you think 99%IS is suitable for Carnival?
Pint: I am not trying to bring in the brand to make it popular. I feel like the current consumers are always wearing the same thing so whenever I find something interesting I would definitely try to bring it to Thailand. I want them to experience and see something new.
Bajowoo: I know the current collection might not be suitable for Thailand’s climate but I kinda wanna challenge the consumers’ mindset. Isn’t it funny to see how consumers here would react to our thick jackets. I am not about making money but I am all about pushing the culture forward and also celebrating friendship with my partners and team. It is what I went through that makes me who I am today
Pint: Aside from the jacket collection, actually we do have the more wearable pieces like the t-shirts and the caps.
How do you keep yourself inspired?
Bajowoo: I live day by day and I don’t know what tomorrow would bring. Like I went to visit Farn at his studio and accidentally broke my toes (laugh). I believe in what I do and I would continue to do what I love. There is no such thing as failures if I keep trying and living. And I treasure my 99%IS team and my friends like Farn and Pint cause it is always more fun when we do it together. My dream is to create a sub-culture world like punk or hippie cultures. I want my passion for the culture to spread like a virus for the youth.
Can you choose 3 favourite pieces from the collection?
Bajowoo: I simply cannot because I love them all.
So last but not least what 99%IS?
Bajowoo: My 99% comes from the 1% of the culture that most people don’t care about. Their 1% is my 99% for me and my friends – friendship, passion and mindset.